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There are some big changes coming to popular Pinellas County hangout: Gandy Beach. Officials are blocking off the mangroves and large parts of the beach that vehicles can access. These adjustments are in effort to protect the environment. If you’ve driven by Gandy Beach this past week you might have noticed the wooden posts along the mangroves. This is part of the effort to restrict where people can drive and park.

The littering at Gandy has been a known issue to the Florida Department of Transportation for a while, but recently it’s been getting out of hand. The sandy causeway that parallels Gandy Blvd is a state right of way, which is why FDOT is handling this issue. Littering isn’t the only issue at Gandy Beach. FDOT Spokesperson Kris Carson states that “they’ve had tips about illegal drug use, overnight camping, and burning of the mangroves.” The idea for the wooden bollards came up about a year ago to combat these issues.

According to Fox 13 News, the $70,753.20 project is expected to be complete before the Labor Day holiday weekend. To help with conservation efforts, new mangrove plants will be added to the area as well.

Gandy Beach may not make the list of must-see beaches in Tampa Bay, but it’s still a favorite hang out spot for locals. “We don’t want to take the area away from the public because we know it is a beautiful area,” said Carson.

Some locals are pretty upset about these changes, but understand that it’s in effort to keep our waters and shores beautiful.